I would typically give a quick opinion on the game before I get into my takeaways, but we all feel the same way after watching the game. So, let’s get straight to the important stuff.
Given the stakes, that’s probably the worst loss of Barry Odom’s tenure at Mizzou.
There were never any real expectations in 2016. The loss at Purdue in 2017 was disappointing, but it didn’t prevent something meaningful from being accomplished. The “bad” losses last year — at least — came against quality opponents on the road.
Include all those ingredients and it add up to a truly gut-wrenching loss. This team had fans buying in, but a loss to a Vanderbilt team who had nothing going for it likely knocks some of that down. Of all seasons, this season had something very meaningful on the line both because of what Missouri has accomplished in recent weeks and also what the rest of the division has failed to accomplish.
But this loss had it all. An anemic offense, a defense who played well, but ultimately couldn’t come up with enough stops when they needed it most, and a special teams unit that missed multiple field goals in a game decided by one score. There’s no silver lining to this one. There’s no way to spin this one. Mizzou lost the kind of game it can’t lose. And it did so at the worst possible time.
The penalties. So many penalties.
Mizzou finished the game with 12 penalties for 120 yards, including one on the game-ending offsides by their star defensive tackle, Jordan Elliott.
The 12 penalties is tied for the third most by a Mizzou team in the last decade. The 120 penalty yards are the fifth most by Mizzou in the last 20 years.
I don’t know how much analysis there is for this. When you’re penalized in a way few Mizzou teams have been in the last two decades, things are going to be difficult.
When you combine the penalties with the Tigers’ other issues, it’s going to be nearly impossible to overcome.
Speaking of those issues...
The passing game disappeared.
Mizzou’s passing game was non-existent. The Tigers’ 140 passing yards are their third fewest in a game under Barry Odom.
Kam Scott had one big play for 55 yards. The rest of the game, Mizzou’s receivers combined to rack up 7 receptions for 57 yards on the day. The receiving corps hasn’t been as good as we expected this season, but this was as bad as it gets. Nobody was getting open, Kelly Bryant started relying on his legs and the Tigers simply never found a way to consistently move the football.
The Tigers’ lack of execution on scoring opportunities bit them.
- 1st & 10 at the Vandy 20-yard line leads to a field goal attempt from the 32-yard due to a false start and a sack. Zero points.
- 1st & goal from the Vandy 9-yard line leads to another Kelly Bryant red zone interception. Zero points.
- 1st & 10 at the Vandy 28-yard line results in another field goal attempt from the 30-yard line after another sack. Zero points.
Three trips inside the Vandy 30-yard line resulting in zero points. Vanderbilt came into the game allowing points on 91 percent of opponents’ red zone opportunities. They were allowing 36 points per game. They just lost, while allowing 34 points, against a 2-5 UNLV team. I can’t explain Mizzou’s lack of offense. It’s inexcusable. And it happened against the worst possible opponent at the worst possible time.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Barry Odom.
I’ve seen the Tweets. Every game is some sort of referendum on Barry Odom as a coach. I just refuse to participate in the prisoner of the moment calls for firing a coach who had shown so much improvement this season.
This is an inexcusable loss. It can’t happen. It’s also a loss we see from teams every single year all across the country. Heck, earlier today a great Wisconsin team went on the road and lost against Illinois. ILLINOIS! How does that happen? Because college football is crazy.
Weird stuff happens in this game. If you don’t root for Alabama, you’ve probably seen your team lose an indescribable game nearly every season you’ve been a fan of the team. That’s how college football works.
I’m not trying to spin the loss. There’s no way to do that, and I’m not here to cape for Odom. There’s no reason to do so. But, no, I don’t think he should be fired. I think he’s a flawed head coach. Those flaws are accentuated in close games, as we’ve seen the last two years in particular against South Carolina, Kentucky, Wyoming and now Vanderbilt. The penalties have to be corrected. Plus, this team seems to have an issue going on the road this season.
These are all things that need to be corrected.
But, no, they don’t rise to the level of firing Odom. I understand the frustration. This is worse than the loss against Wyoming. But let’s all take a deep breath and move forward. There’s still a lot of football to be played.